Like previous games, Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Switch also has a museum to fill up. The museum is not a part of your island immediately. It’ll will take a few days to unlock and build. Don’t fret, as the process to unlock the museum is fairly simple.
Unlocking the museum
On your first day, Tom Nook will task you with finding five different bug or fish around the island. Once you hand them over, he’ll have you place down a plot that will eventually turn into the museum.
The next day, Blathers will show up in a tent and start accepting donations: 15 unique creatures. Once you turn those in, he’ll stop accepting donations and the tent will be upgraded into the full museum two days later.
The museum will open with three exhibits: one for fossils, one for fish, and one for bugs.
Donating to the museum
Once the museum opens, you’ll be able to mass donate multiple items at once. Every day, dig up the fossils on your island and turn them into Blathers to evaluate. He’ll let you know if the fossils are new or missing from the museum exhibits, and you can choose to donate them to him.
Completing the museum requires year-round play, since some fish and bugs only spawn during specific months. That said, as of this writing, we don’t know if there is any reward for completing the museum. Past Animal Crossing games didn’t reward players for completing the museum (though players were rewarded for catching all of the fish and bugs, separately).
Adding the art exhibit
In order to add the art exhibit to your museum, you need to submit at least 60 different donations to the museum, according to a data mine by _Ninji. These donations can come from any category (fish, bugs, or fossils). Once you do that, Blathers will talk about wanting to open an art exhibit.
A day after he mentions displaying artworks, Isabelle will warn that a shady art dealer has been spotted lately, and to be careful. On this day, Jolly Redd will be wandering around your island. You will be able to see his boat on the small northern beach, but you won’t be able to enter it.
Once you find Redd, he’ll sell you a random painting for 4,980 Bells. Based on our testing, this painting will always be genuine. Donate the painting to Blathers, and he’ll talk about getting started on an art exhibit.
The next day, the museum will be under construction. You won’t be able to donate any items or get any fossils assessed during this time. Another day after this, the renovated museum will open.
With the art exhibit open, Redd will appear on your island again talking about how he likes your island and he’ll start coming by randomly to sell art. Every time he visits, he’ll have four pieces of art for sale, some of which will be fake. We have a guide on how to tell the fakes from the real pieces of art, so you won’t have to figure it out on your own.
Where is the museum shop and The Roost Café?
The museum shop, which appeared in New Leaf and featured upgraded tools and other objects for purchase, has not yet been added to New Horizons. It has been data mined though.
The Roost Café, which has also showed up in data mines, is also currently missing, but is likely planned for a future update.